Some crimes are obvious, making it easy to sentence the perpetrator. Others, such as littering — not so much. It’s hard to pinpoint who littered when we see trash all over the highway. We see the trash and know someone must have done it — whether indirectly from trash blowing out of a truck bed or directly littering out of a car window — but most of the time, it’s impossible to determine the perpetrator.
This week, local cleanup activists got some justice after an out-of-town roofing contractor, who illegally dumped asphalt shingles on Highway 22 earlier this year, was found guilty of four counts of criminal littering.
Joseph Guzman will have to pay $2,500 in restitution to Tallapoosa County District 3, pay $2,000 in fines and serve 360 days of probation. He will also have to pay $500 or serve 180 days in the Tallapoosa County Jail.
But the punishment doesn’t stop there. Guzman and his roofing crew will have to return to Tallapoosa County for 16 hours of community service in District 3.
District 3 commissioner John McKelvey already has some work lined up for the crew and will be happy to see justice served by having Guzman and his crew spend time cleaning up in the county after they deliberately trashed it.
Lake Martin Resource Association president John Thompson has long been a proponent of anti-littering campaigns and is also pleased with case’s outcome.
“It’s the first time I heard of when illegal dumping was prosecuted and penalties levied,” Thompson said. “I think it is a great deterrent to dumping for those who might be thinking about it.”
It’s great to see justice served for a crime left so often unpunished.
McKelvey said in his nearly 30 years of law enforcement, this will be a landmark case for law enforcement, prosecutors and judges to follow going forward to help deter littering and illegal dumping.
“I think it will be an eyeopener for some,” McKelvey said. “He not only paid a fine, paid restitution; he went to jail at his arrest and will have to pick up someone else’s trash too.”
We hope this teaches litterers a lesson.